NPP Municipal Legislators Back Rossello… "You Don't Need A Passport"… Disney Impacts Diversity… Vieques Forgets Military Past… Gov To Challenge Fed Court’s Decision… Unanimous For Toney… Toledo Worries About New Penal Code… UPR Strike Is Over… PRCC Suggests Ways To Cut Government's Budget… Byte-Lingual Education… TX Leads In Hispanic Job Deaths… Inmates’ Release Halted… SJ Begins Vaccination Campaign… A Threatened Treasure

NPP Municipal Legislators Back Rossello For Senate President

May 2, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (EFE) – The Municipal Legislators Federation, which is made up of municipal assembly members of the New Progressive Party (NPP), on Sunday approved a resolution to back Pedro Rossello in his bid for the Senate presidency.

The one-page document was approved during an Ordinary General Assembly held Sunday in Hato Rey, was signed by the group’s president, Genaro Sanchez, and was sent by fax to the NPP committee headquarters.

The federation resolved "to demand that NPP senators immediately respond to the claim of the party’s base and demand Pedro Rossello Gonzalez as president of the Puerto Rico Senate.

The resolution says Rossello "has shown leadership, tenacity and commitment to achieve the end of the colonial system (in which) Puerto Ricans live, and implement a program of government that the people endorsed in the last general elections."

The documents says the municipal legislators "are the elected officials closest to the base of the party and it is urgent that we participate in these issues that affect the lack of discipline and unity of the party, as well as our possibilities of victory in the 2008 general elections."

"You Don't Need A Passport To Come Here"

May 1, 2005
Copyright © 2005. All rights reserved. 

-- Alain Tiphaine, head of the hotel and tourism association in Puerto Rico, on the new law that will require Americans to use a passport to travel to and from the Caribbean, excluding Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory.

Impact On Diversity: Making Central Florida More Worldly

Orlando Sentinel Staff Writers

May 1, 2005
Copyright © 2005 ORLANDO SENTINEL. All rights reserved. 

Through its work force and outreach, Disney has helped create a mosaic in Central Florida.

From the more than 7,000 employees who speak multiple languages to the international students who find internships at the parks, the company has a global side.

Before the opening of Animal Kingdom in 1998, Disney recruiters set up shop in Puerto Rico, looking for workers who might want to join Orlando's growing Puerto Rican community.

Because of tourism in general and Disney in particular, Central Florida is "one of the most multi-ethnic [communities] in the Sun Belt," said William Frey, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

Other Disney policies also add to the area's diversity.

In 1996, Disney was the region's first major company to offer same-sex benefits. That sparked protests, and current and former gay employees say the fact that Disney stood firm helped boost the company's reputation among gays.

And while Disney has never officially sanctioned Gay Days -- the annual pilgrimage of gays to the parks -- the company has become more openly supportive of its gay work force, which could be as high as 40 percent, say current and former gay employees.

"Disney has a pretty strong track record of being a positive place for gays to work," said Doug Swallow, an original Gay Days organizer.

Vieques Forgets Its Military Past

May 1, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (EFE) – Most anti-military groups in Vieques did nothing to mark the second anniversary of the U.S. Navy withdrawal from that island municipality on May 1.

A similar situation occurred on April 19, the day security guard David Sanes was killed by an errant bomb during military practices in Vieques six years ago.

The U.S. Navy used Vieques for practice during six decades.

Anti-military community leader Ismael Guadalupe said Vieques Mayor Damaso Serrano had told him that he hadn’t organized any events for this date.

Serrano was unavailable for comment, while anti-military leaders Robert Rabin and Nilda Medina were reportedly away from the island.

Guadalupe said he plans to trespass on the land that is now under the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior on May 14.

He also said the people of Vieques are immobilized and that the local organizations aren’t doing anything. While he acknowledged the tourism has flourished, he said it has only benefited those who control restaurants, hotels, and car-rentals.

Governor Plans To Challenge Federal Court’s Decision

May 1, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (EFE) – Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila said this weekend that he would continue to support small and medium-size businesses despite a federal ruling in favor of Walgreens drug stores on the island.

"The Justice Department has been studying the effect of that ruling and what steps we may take to change that ruling," Acevedo Vila said during a press conference at the Luis Muñoz Marin Park in Hato Rey Saturday.

A federal court ruled that the law and procedures that the local government has followed to regulate the establishment of drug stores on the island, is invalid under the U.S. Constitution because it affects interstate commerce.

On another note, Acevedo Vila urged the Legislature to approve the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Unanimous For Toney

Fourth Oldest Champion

May 1, 2005
Copyright © 2005 Associated Press . All rights reserved.

NEW YORK -- James Toney did almost as he promised, outpointing but not knocking out John Ruiz to win the WBA heavyweight title Saturday night.

Toney, a former champion at three other weights, scored a unanimous decision that wasn't particularly close. It was just the third heavyweight bout for the 36-year-old

Toney, who has been fighting since 1992. He became the fourth-oldest heavyweight champ and the third one-time middleweight champion to win a heavyweight title.

One of the other middleweight-turned-heavyweight winners was Roy Jones, who also beat Ruiz. Jones was at ringside broadcasting the fight, in which Toney looked fearsome - and flabby.

While the extra weight didn't look good on Toney, he never lost the swagger he carried into the Madison Square Garden ring. And as the fight swung his way, he grimaced in mock pain at Ruiz and even did a little shuffle after the eighth round.

At 233 pounds, he was outweighed by 8 pounds, and the weight looked better on Ruiz. Not that it mattered as Toney wore down the natural heavyweight to win 116-111 on two cards, 115-112 on the other.

"I didn't expect much from John, because he is an average fighter," Toney said. "John Ruiz is stupid. He can't change his style. He only knows how to fight one way."

Ruiz, 33, landed 28 percent of his power punches to 57 percent for Toney, and it naturally made a difference. Yet it was not a hard punch that sent Ruiz to the canvas early in the seventh round, but a right-left combination. Ruiz claimed he slipped, but replays showed Toney connected just before Ruiz went down.

"He's a tough guy to fight. He moves around a lot," Ruiz said. "I connected a lot, I finished stronger and I won the fight."

Well, no, Toney got the nod for finishing better. And now he has his sights on the other heavyweight champions: Vitaly Klitschko, Chris Byrd and Lamon Brewster.

"I want to fight Klitschko next. I am ready to fight anybody," Toney said. "I don't duck anyone."

Toledo Worries About New Penal Code

May 1, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (EFE) – Police Superintendent Pedro Toledo reiterated his opinion that the new Penal Code that comes into effect Sunday is ambiguous. The police chief predicted that its implementation may create confusion.

Toledo said he is analyzing the new code to present his views before Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila and the Legislative Assembly for amendments as soon as possible.

According to the superintendent, the article dealing with how soon police officers are expected to show up before a judge after they have made an arrest, and the article regarding search warrants are unclear.

"There are areas that need to be amended. For example, an article states that police officers shouldn’t delay in presenting a detained person before a judge, but it doesn’t specify what would constitute a delay. In the federal jurisdiction, it’s 48 hours, but over here no one knows," Toledo said after participating in a Police Puerto Rican Federation event in Añasco.

"The other area that needs clarification is the article stating that police officers can’t do a search without a court order. If a police officer searches a vehicle because he believed he had authority to do so, and a judge ruled that he didn’t, the agent could be accused of a felony, which carries a sentence of six months to three years in prison," Toledo said.

He also warned about the article which typifies aggressions against police as misdemeanors instead of felonies.

"Under the new code, the agent would need a doctor to certify that he or she sustained a serious injury to justify felony charges against the aggressor," Toledo said.

The police superintendent warned about the article which typifies aggressions against police as misdemeanors instead of felonies.

UPR Strike Is Over

Combined Wire Services

May 1, 2005
Copyright © 2005. All rights reserved. 

Following 24 days of conflict, the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) finally put an end to the strike at the Rio Piedras Campus late Saturday night.

According to published reports, the UPR administration agreed to audit the use of the funds the university gains through tuition, but the tuition increase has not been withdrawn.

The agreement also includes investing the money from the Technology Fund in technology, infrastructure, and academic offers on UPR campuses.

They also agreed to put aside $1.5 million from the tuition increase to ensure that no student be unable to enroll due to the tuition revision.

UPR Chancellor Gladys Escalona de Motta said maintenance and cleanup has already begun at the Rio Piedras. She also said regular classes may resume by Wednesday.

The end of the strike came about after UPR President Antonio Garcia Padilla said the U.S. District Court decision supports UPR efforts to guarantee the peaceful access of scientific researchers to the laboratories on the Rio Piedras Campus.

Garcia Padilla urged students on strike to heed the court’s order.

U.S. District Court Judge Carmen Consuelo Vargas de Cerezo ordered the UPR administration and any other person to allow access for a group of professors who are conducting scientific research on campus.

The president had also confirmed the creation of a committee that would analyze the UPR’s financial situation.

Garcia Padilla had acknowledged the possibility of doing without the funds from the tuition increase if the committee presented a workable alternative.

Byte-Lingual Education; Luciano Rodriguez

By Desiree Chen.

May 1, 2005
Copyright © 2005 Chicago Tribune. All rights reserved. 

MISSION: Make learning click.

MOMENT OF TRUTH: After moving from Puerto Rico to Naperville to work as a software engineer, Rodriguez, a former professor, wanted to keep a hand in as a teacher. Then he heard that the People's Resource Center, a social-service agency in Wheaton, needed someone to teach basic computer skills.

BACKSTORY: He started teaching there every Saturday, and soon noticed a growing number of Spanish-speaking students, most of whom knew little English and had inadequate schooling.

OUTCOME: Rodriguez, 46, developed intensive classes that merge computer skills, GED preparation and English. The students, some of whom are in the classes from 7:30 a.m. until noon, might start out discussing current events or finding states on a map, then go on-line to look up more facts or hone reading skills. The students, who range in age from 24 to 60, also learn how to use e-mail and the Internet to, for example, find family members abroad. At the end of the course, each student gets a reconditioned computer to keep. Just as important, the students become fast friends.

SIDE EFFECTS: "You can get depressed because ... behind every student there is a very, very bad life," Rodriguez says. He marvels that many students work three jobs during the week. Some have abusive spouses. Others have been swindled. "When you see how hard their lives are, they teach you how to be brave, how to push hard."

PAYOFF: "There's something beautiful, magical going on; here they can communicate. Here they can share."

Texas Leads Nation In Hispanic Job Deaths

By Anabelle Garay

April 29, 2005
Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

DALLAS - More Hispanics died on the job in Texas than in any other state in 2003, and the number of immigrants killed in work-related accidents increased sharply over a decade, a union study released Thursday found.

While job fatalities and worker injuries across the nation have dropped or remained steady overall, deaths for Hispanic and immigrant employees increased almost every year from 1992 to 2003 in Texas, according to Death on the Job, a report of government figures by the AFL-CIO.

Hispanic worker fatalities reported in Texas rose from 136 in 1992 to 163 in 2003, surpassing California, which saw a decrease, according to the study.

Texas counted 69 foreign-born workers who died from work-related injuries in 1992. By 2003, the number of immigrant worker fatalities reached 121, a 75 percent increase. Texas trailed only California.

Texas has a high population of native-born and immigrant Hispanics, and they account for a large portion of the work force in riskier occupations, such as manufacturing, agriculture and construction, said Deborah Weinstock, an occupational safety and health specialist for the AFL-CIO.

Hispanic immigrants are also disproportionately represented in the informal economy, referring to those who work as part-time or temporary employees and day laborers or who get paid under the table, Weinstock said.

One of the main factors in fatal workplace injuries is inadequate training on dangerous conditions, employees' rights and safety, union officials say.

Appellate Court Halts Release Of 14 Inmates

April 29, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (EFE) – The Court of Appeals granted the petition the Justice Department filed Thursday against the release of 14 inmates who had been put on parole my mistake.

The 14 prisoners had been convicted of murder.

The inmates will now have to remain in prison until the case is heard.

The Justice Department filed the petition because it believed that Bayamon Judge Misael Ramos’ decision to grant parole to the inmates under the Electronic Supervision Program was wrong.

San Juan Begins Vaccination Campaign

April 29, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (EFE) – San Juan Health Executive Director Hector Sorrentini and San Juan First Lady Irma Garriga de Santini announced on Thursday the upcoming municipal events to vaccinate the entire San Juan population.

"During this week we will be vaccinating at the municipal health centers until 8 p.m. We will also be vaccinating people during our regular hours as well as during our special health fairs," Sorrentini said in a prepared statement.

The municipal government will administer shots for hepatitis B, the flu for both the pediatric and adult populations, pneumonia, and tetanus. It will also provide infants with a combination of five shots known as "prevaric."

The municipal health centers which will be open during extended hours are the Centros Mas Salud of Hoare, San Jose, Rio Piedras, Puerto Nuevo, Sabana Llana, and Llorens Torres.

A Threatened Treasure

Our position: The U.S. Forest Service and Puerto Rico need to save the rain forest.


April 29, 2005
Copyright © 2005 ORLANDO SENTINEL. All rights reserved. 

Preservation of the Caribbean National Forest is a national priority threatened by encroaching urban development. The forest, located in Puerto Rico and known as El Yunque, is one of the few rain forests in North America and is visited by nearly 1 million people each year.

Rapid development is threatening the water supply, animals, plants and even rainfall, which is adversely affected by pockets of heat.

To combat the threat, the U.S. Forest Service and island government need to retain what is left of a buffer zone around the forest. This zone was established years ago to keep sprawl from gobbling up the forest's nearly 28,000 pristine acres filled with dense foliage and rare species.

Preserving the greenbelt was a good idea then, and it's a more urgent idea today.

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